After escaping cancelation twice already, Lucifer has returned for a sixth and final season on Netflix, wrapping up the saga of the devil, Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), and detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), the mortal love of his life. In its surprising and satisfying 10-episode final season, Lucifer returns to attack one of its main running themes: Can fate be altered?
The fact that season 6 of Lucifer exists does suggest fate isn’t set in stone. The show, based on original comics by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, and Sam Kieth, originally premiered on Fox in 2016 under Tom Kapinos, with co-showrunners Ildy Modrovich and Joe Henderson. It was cancelled three seasons later, then saved by Netflix for a season 4. Lucifer was intended to end with a two-part season 5, but the streaming service ordered another season right as the showrunners were finishing up, prompting the development of an entirely new ending for the series.
“I feel like the legacy of a show is so defined by whether it sticks the landing,” Henderson said in an interview with TV Guide. “And that was where our concern [about a sixth season] came from — we felt like we were about to stick the landing and it was, ‘Do we want to jeopardize that?’ But what we realize now is, this is us sticking the landing.”
Thank the devil they did, because season 5 ended with Lucifer becoming God, Chloe becoming his number two in heaven (even though she had a young daughter on Earth who just lost her dad), and Maze (Lesley-ann Brandt), who begins the series as Lucifer’s most loyal demon follower, taking over Hell. That ending would have settled the question of fate as totally and completely malleable by completely upending what God originally intended for these characters. In season 1, God sends Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) to Earth just to tell Lucifer to return to hell. If he wanted him in heaven as a God-in-training, he could have very easily made that happen. So when season 5 ends with Lucifer winning a civil war to take God’s place, it suggests God’s plan isn’t set in stone.
But season 6 complicates that perception a little. The answer to whether people can escape what the powers that be intend for them ends up being a firm “maybe.” And while that new answer isn’t as clear-cut, it’s much truer to the spirit of the series, which is to say that nothing about identity and purpose is completely black and white.
Lucifer wasn’t always a show about cosmic questions. When it premiered in 2016, it was a police procedural with a side of supernatural intrigue — the story of an angel who rebelled against God and was sent to hell for his crimes, and the mortal female detective who’s immune to his devilish charms. Early in the series, the cases Chloe and Lucifer worked on together were almost all human-on-human violence, with no demons or biblical baddies. The main conflict was whether Chloe would find out that Lucifer was, in fact, the devil, not just some rich guy living out a weird fantasy.
Lucifer didn’t start building its mythology until seasons 2 and 3, when it delved a little deeper into its core themes of forgiveness and change. But the uneven quality of the villains meant that the show’s effectiveness varied. The season 2 arrival of Lucifer’s mother, Charlotte/Goddess (Tricia Helfer), allowed for complexity over the questions of whether she’s a villain, or just a woman betrayed by her husband and sons. Neither the Goddess nor Charlotte are cut-and-dried characters. Their complexity helps challenge Lucifer’s understanding of good and bad — and by extension, of hell and heaven. But the season 3 big bad, Cain (Tom Welling), is much less compelling. He’s tragic, but also straight-up evil.
Season 4, the first after the move to Netflix, takes the story a step further, combining the questions of fate and the good/bad binary in a new villain, Father William Kinley (Graham McTavish). Driven by his belief that Lucifer is evil, without any nuance, Father Kinley has only one motivation: to prevent a prophecy from being fulfilled. (“When the devil walks the earth and finds his first love, evil shall be released.”) But in his desperation to prevent the prophecy from coming true, he inadvertently causes it. Because he believed so strongly that Lucifer is evil, he believes the devil is actively trying to fulfill this prophecy, instead of just focusing on his day job. Fate on this show may be real, but not in the way Kinley understands it.
His story aligns with the recurring conflict between what the characters want and what they deserve, according to the Bible’s clear-cut ideas of good and evil. Take Amenadiel, Lucifer’s more righteous older brother. In the show, angels self-actualize their own powers, and in season 2, when Amenadiel sins and starts feeling unworthy of Godly gifts, he loses his angel wings. He gets them back only when he realizes no sin is unforgivable, and that people can change. Lucifer goes through the same thing in season 4 after Chloe learns his true identity. He believes he’s a monster, so he literally starts to look like one.
Maze is the best illustration of the theme of personal choice. An expert torturer and fighter without a soul, in season 1 she lives to serve Lucifer. But as the series continues, she wants more out of life — more than what she believes God intends for her. The only problem is that she thinks she needs a soul to get it. After trying desperately to cultivate a soul, Maze has all but given up when God tells her that while he never gave demons souls, he also never said they couldn’t grow souls. Once she finally lets herself believe she can be more than a soulless creature, she changes.
Up until season 6, God’s plan on the show was always ambiguous. For the most part, none of the characters get direct orders from God. They believe he has determined their futures, but they don’t know exactly what those futures hold. With Lucifer waiting to take his place as God in the final season, the stage seems set for an indeterminate, wide-open playing field. But, all that goes out the window with the arrival of Lucifer’s surprise daughter from the future, Rory (Brianna Hildebrand). After upending the entire idea of fate and getting rid of God in season 5, season 6 brings it right back, focing Lucifer to confront the possibility that even after five seasons of character growth, acceptance, and successfully deviating from the plan God set out for him, he can’t change his future.
Season 5 Lucifer fought to change what he once believed were God’s dictates, the limits of what Lucifer was allowed to be and do. But over the course of season 6, he’s forced to accept that some responsibilities, like ruling hell, are unavoidable — and that fixed fates aren’t necessarily bad ones. Chloe was a literal gift from God to Lucifer, but once she moved beyond the sense that she wasn’t in control of her own life, she embraced her feelings for Lucifer as her own, not God-given.
In the end, that’s really what Lucifer is about: How people have the ability to change what we believe we’re meant to be. Sometimes fate is malleable, and sometimes a destiny that feels like a punishment is really a blessing. But none of that is true for people who don’t open themselves to self-improvement and self-reflection, as Lucifer does. It’s no coincidence that both the first episode of the series and the finale end in a therapist’s office. For five seasons, we watched Lucifer work on himself in therapy. Season 6 finally lets him use everything he’s learned to reach his destiny.
All 10 episodes of Lucifer season 6 are now streaming on Netflix.